Objective: To investigate predictors of evidence-based surgical care in a population-based sample of patients with newly diagnosed colorectal cancer.
Design, patients and setting: Prospective audit of all new patients with colorectal cancer reported to the New South Wales Central Cancer Registry between 1 February 2000 and 31 January 2001.
Main outcome measures: Concordance with seven guidelines from the 1999 Australian evidence-based guidelines for colorectal cancer; predictors of guideline concordance; the mean proportion of relevant guidelines followed for individual patients.
Results: Questionnaires were received for 3095 patients (91.6%). Between 0 and 100% of relevant guidelines were followed for individual patients (median, 67%). Concordance with individual guidelines varied considerably. Patient age independently predicted non-concordance with guidelines for adjuvant therapy and preoperative radiotherapy. Adjuvant chemotherapy was more likely if a patient with node-positive colon cancer was treated in a metropolitan hospital or by a general surgeon. Surgeons with a high caseload or specialty in colorectal cancer were more likely to perform colonic pouch reconstruction, prescribe thromboembolism or antibiotic prophylaxis, and were less likely to refer patients with high-risk rectal cancer for adjuvant radiotherapy. Bowel preparation was less likely among older patients and in high-caseload hospitals.
Conclusion: Effective strategies to fully implement national colorectal cancer guidelines are needed. In particular, increasing the use of appropriate adjuvant therapy should be a priority, especially among older people.